Federal Employee Disability Retirement Law: The mish-mash approach

Do you have a linear, sequential methodology?  Is the legal argumentation systematically constructed?  Or, is the mish-mash approach consigned – of a hodgepodge of thousands of hands at needlepoint in creating a colorful quilt for the Fall Festival of creative designs?

Is the Bruner Presumption invoked as an afterthought, and the Bracey-argument concerning accommodations defined in an obfuscated manner, such that the argument reveals more about what you do not know and understand, than of a pin-point accuracy as to the sharpening and attacking of the issues preemptively recognized?  Have, indeed, the knives been sharpened for the battle ahead, or have you revealed the dullness of the edges such that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will likely scoff with disdain and deny the case at the First Stage of this process?

There is a substantive distinction to be made between making an argument in a non-systematic way, as in a proverbial “shot-gun” approach or of throwing what substance you believe will stick and subsequently splattering it against the wall in hopes of increasing a statistically deficient implementation of the process; that, as opposed to a streamlined, methodological approach of sequentially addressing each issue in a preemptive, categorical manner, as well as recognizing what not to touch at this initial stage of the Federal Disability Retirement process, and in realizing what should be addressed.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, basing one’s approach upon a “hope and a prayer” that things will turn out well, is probably not the most effective nor efficient engagement of behavior.

First, the initial process and stage itself is a bureaucratically lengthy procedure, such that if the Federal Disability Retirement applicant does not enhance the chances of success at the First Stage, time is “lost” in that a denial will simply quantify by exponential multiplication the time taken at the Second, Reconsideration Stage; and further, another catastrophic delay if an appeal is needed to be taken to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.

In the end, the mish-mash approach is what most of us do in life, and often is the very reason why we ended up where we are.  But in the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, it may well be time to abandon the mish-mash approach, and consider consulting with a Federal Disability Retirement lawyer who specializes in a different approach – one reflecting a systematic, methodological and sequentially logical engagement, refined through many years of experience and encounters with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement from Civil Service: Recognizing the best of times

Often, we mistake short-term travails with the chronic despair experienced by some.  In the midst of an experiential trauma, compounded by a lack of capacity to consider the limited perspective we find ourselves in, the enmeshment of the “now” without any insight for a better tomorrow, a future to behold nor a distance aglow with the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, inflames the inner Darwinian categories of instinctive responsiveness to merely survive.

In retrospect, one’s judgment on any particular day or time, or even of an event remembered, may be altered.  We may even point to that slice of life and state with aplomb, “It was actually the best of times.”  How often do we hear that when one harkens back to the starving days, when struggling was a daily commotion and worrying was but a common routine?

By contrast, such reverential references are rarely attributed to those periods where longevity of suffering cannot be measured, where the chronic nature of the pain cannot be determined, and where no promises can be made that tomorrow will be any better off, no matter what extent of effort is exerted, than the next day, or the day before, or the day after, or the time prior.  In such circumstances, change itself may be a necessary component in the search for a light of hope.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who daily struggle with fulfilling the positional requirements of one’s job, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best option available.

The concept itself – the “best of times” – is a relative one; we compare it to other memories where distance of time has not faded too radically a moment of the negative:  no (or lesser) pain; controlled depression; inability to remain sedentary for long; unable to bend, lift or reach repetitively; unable to engage in the physical requirements of the job; inability to have the requisite focus, concentration or work for any sustained period of time without the high distractibility of pain; these, and many more, constitute the foundational loss which may qualify the Federal or Postal employee to become eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Perhaps, getting an approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will not necessarily mean that the best of times still lay before one; but surely, whatever the future beholds, the chronic nature of one’s medical condition, the unbearable burden of the daily toil just to make it to work, cannot by any manner of the definition, even imply that the “best of times” resides in the present circumstances of choice.

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is a choice of sorts; it is to recognize that there is, indeed, life after Federal Service or the U.S. Postal Service, and further, that recognizing the best of times involves movement forward and beyond, where the present circumstances of negative returns will likely never allow for a regeneration of that which keeps us stuck in the quicksand of daily toil.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Linguistic Labyrinth

Language is a labyrinth of paths.  You approach from one side and know your way around; you approach the same place from another side and no longer know your way about.”  #203, Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein.  Life is never a static construct; those who consider it so, are sorely left behind when the winds of change suddenly fill the sails and the slumbering ship awakens with a groan to pull free of its moorings.

Left behind are the days when a person could count on the vocation of the parent, or of a career singular throughout.  Instead, the economy forces us to adapt and reconsider; new skills are needed, or old ones refined and readjusted.  And the feudal days when the kindness of the squire was tested where lameness or debilitating accidents incurred the wrath of life, are bygones of past initiatives thrown to the howling wolves of predatory eyes lurking behind to take advantage of every slight and weakness revealed.

Language is like that, too.  We think that schooling ends when the diploma is handed out, at whatever stage of advancement; but the reality is that the true test of self-initiative begins at that very moment, precisely because liberty allows the freedom to choose between vice or value, where the former is offered freely to the youth who has been released from the shackles of parental control.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal Workers who find themselves in a position where a career move is necessitated by an unfortunate accident or onset of a medical condition, the truth of Wittgenstein, and of life lived in a world of complexities, comes to the fore.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a difficult approach when the mandates of life’s ferocity coalesce in a tripartite convergence:  a medical condition; impact upon one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties with the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service; and the need to secure one’s future in order to attain a level of financial stability.

The unknown labyrinth of language becomes a maze of confusion when the Federal or Postal employee encounters the legal eligibility requirements mandated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in order to overcome the obstacles and hurdles in an effort to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.

Throughout life, the Federal or Postal Worker has approached the path of language from one opening; now, he or she must enter the gates of a bureaucracy which requires expertise and knowledge of a completely different sort, and without the assistance of an attorney, you enter the labyrinth of the unknown at your own peril.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Attorney: Doldrums

It is an actual pocket of calm in areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, where maritime sailors dreaded in days of yore because they presented calm and quietude when the necessity for winds to power the sails of movement suddenly died and disappeared.  One could be trapped for weeks, and sometimes months, when the doldrums hit.

In modern vernacular, of course, they represent a parallel metaphor — of that state of emotional inactivity and rut of life, where melancholy and gloominess overwhelms.  Sometimes, such despair and despondency is purely an internal condition; other times, it is contributed by circumstances of personal or professional environment.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal Worker who suffers from the former because of a medical condition which leads to a state of dysphoria, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits often commingles with the latter, precisely because the internal and external are inevitably interconnected.  The emotional doldrums become exacerbated by the toxic environment engendered and propagated by reactions engaged in by the agency; and the continuing effect becomes a further cause because of the hostility shown and heightened actions proposed.

How does one escape the doldrums of stale despair?  For the mariner whose power depended upon the winds of change, waiting for altered conditions was the only avenue of hope; for the Federal or Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition presents a doldrum of another sort, taking affirmative steps by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the primary and most effective manner for efficacious change.

Sitting around helplessly like a victim of the vicissitudes of life may have been the way of past responses; for the Federal and Postal employee of modernity, we have greater control over the destiny of one’s future, but to utilize the tools of change requires action beyond mere reflection upon the doldrums of life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement and the Inescapable Bureaucracies

The gargantuan of Leviathans is the Federal entity with a bureaucracy so expansive that identities of Federal employees are not merely never recognized, but to a great extent, irrelevant. Certain agencies fall into that category: The Department of Defense; The Department of Homeland Security; the Department of Veterans Affairs; The Department of Agriculture, with all of their subsidiary services, including the U.S. Forest Service; The U.S. Department of Justice; and, further, the U.S. Postal Service probably qualifies in that category of large, subsuming organizations where one’s identity of any sense of “self”is lost within the overwhelming size of the bureaucracy.

For the Federal employee or the Postal worker who is employed by such organizations, or any of the lesser ones (i.e., U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration; Department of Commerce; NOAA; Department of Energy; Department of — and one may almost be able to simply insert any pragmatic noun or adjective, and there is a department or agency which fits the bill), the intersection of a medical condition which begins to impede one’s ability and capacity to perform the full positional duties of one’s job, becomes a double-edged sword: On the one side of the equation, being an employee of a large organization can mean that one can, with some success of anonymity, continue to work without much notice, so long as the immediate supervisor or other coworkers do not take note; on the other side of the sharpened sword, is the reality that if such an organization begins to take punitive and adverse actions, it is difficult to fight against the compendium of agency tactics.

Whether the agency notices or not, the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker has an absolute right to file for CSRS or FERS Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, so long as certain prefatory legal criteria are met.  For the Federal employee or Postal worker under FERS, a minimum of 18 months of Federal Service is required. For the quickly-fading dinosaur of CSRS employees, the minimum requirement of 5 years of Federal Service is required. In either case, if a Federal employee or Postal worker begins to suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, then it is time to consider filing for Federal OPM Disability Retirement benefits, especially if it becomes fairly evident that the medical condition is going to last a minimum of 12 months.

Then comes the next hurdle and realization: While the ill Federal employee or the injured Postal worker is employed by one of those gargantuan entities, the filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application must ultimately be submitted to another Leviathan of sorts: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management. C’est la vie.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Different Agencies

The question is sometimes asked as to whether, in filing for a Medical Retirement from the Office of Personnel Management, it makes a difference whether the Attorney has previously dealt with a particular Agency of the Federal Government.  

Ultimately, whether it is the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, Customs & Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Army, Navy, Air Force, etc., or the multitudinous variety of other departments, including the U.S. Postal Service, Department of State, Securities & Exchange Commission, Social Security Administration, NASA, NOAA, NIH, etc., it matters not. Agencies are made up of individuals.

Whether individual supervisors or Human Resources Departments are “helpful” or not, depends not upon an Agency, but upon the very individuals who comprise the corporate culture of the agency.  Certainly, the tone and tenor of the Department head, and the deliberate compilation of an unpleasant group of supervisors can make a difference in the cumulative culture which conducts business, but for purposes of a medical retirement under FERS or CSRS, the focus needs to be upon the medical conditions, the impact of the medical conditions upon one’s positional requirements, and obtaining the proper documentation to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  

Having prior experience with a multitude of different agencies, over many years, is helpful in recognizing those issues which are central to a Federal Disability Retirement case, and those issues which are and should remain peripheral to a case.  Whether a particular agency or department has been specifically encountered in the past is of far less relevance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire